Wednesday 21 December 2022

It's 3 a.m. and I have to figure it out myself.

The toilet is plugged up. I suppose I could try to find an emergency plumber service. I live in an apartment so I could phone the superintentident and hope to wake him up. However, I am prepared with my own toilet plunger so I can undertake unplugging it myself. Okay, I don't have a plumber's snake but a plunger is a good start which probably handles the majority of stoppages. But what's important here is that by facing my issue as a DIY (Do It Yourself), I get a faster resolution to my problem. I realize not all issues are DIY issues - I may really need a snake - but it's a good place to start and hopefully leads to solving my problem faster.

My toilet problem is really a metaphor for the myriad of distressing situations we all find ourselves in. We may seek expert assistance but that assistance may be unavailable (It's 3 am!). Or maybe it's unsuccessful. (The super came, tried the plunger, failed, and now has to call a professional plumber with a snake.) And this leads me to the final option: accepting the problem, leaving it unresolved, and working around it.

Several years ago, the faucet on my kitchen sink broke. Whenever I turned it on, water would spurt out of the base and actually hit me square in the face. Whoa! Ha, ha, ha! I got out some tools and took the whole thing apart and discovered some O-ring in the cartridge had busted. I had no replacement and nothing I could improvise so I put in a maintenance request but had to wait three days for the super to come around to replace the tap. During that time, I had to use the sink in my bathroom to wash fruits and vegetables and clean up dirty dishes. Meal preparation took place in part in the kitchen and in part in the bathroom. This is how I worked around my problem and continued to live my life. It was inconvenient but doable.

In 2011, my cousin David took a vacation in Mexico and got an ear infection. Over the next six years, numerous visits to an EFT (Ear, Nose, and Throat), the emergency ward (The pain was so bad, he thought he was having a heart attack!), and four operations have left him with permanent nerve damage in his head resulting in on-going pain every single day. He's tried just about every known pain medication known to man, although his latest successful regime is based on Percocet and ice packs. It's difficult to believe but after visiting countless doctors, the conclusion seems to be that he's going to have to live with this. Pain. Every single day. Chronic. This is permanent, and there seems to be (so far) nothing that can be done to remedy the situation. In this case, the saying Hell on Earth is true.

In 2012, I tramautised the upper left quadrant of my body, stopping short of tearing my rotator cuff. I was in pain twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for six months. After numerous visits to my doctor, a neurologist, two x-rays and two MRIs, a chropractor, multiple physiotherapists, and a kinesiologist, the speculation was that I had slightly herniated the cervical disc at the C6 level which was causing referred pain. I could barely move for about nine months, holding my left hand up toward my shoulder because it somehow reduced my pain.

My cousin and I commiserated. The main focus of our days was pain management. While other people lived their lives, the main focus of our days was when do we take a pain pill, how long did we have to wait for the next one, and what could we do in the meantime to minimize pain. How's the weather? What's for dinner tonight? Did you see the latest comedy show? Considering the gravity of our situation, that is, the on-going pain, neither of us cared.

I'm lucky. It took a year but my body healed. My cousin's condition has become chronic, and he has to live with this. As I said, while he does take drugs, he tries to minimize doing so since it has a limited effect. He is obliged to lie down periodically while holding a coldpack to the side of his head.

However, this event in my life seems to have heralded in a new era of health problems. It's as if I turned 60 and the wheels started falling off the wagon. I ain't dead yet, but the old adage seems to be true about us becoming more and more focused on health later on in life. While I do the usual checks with my family doctor, while I see a physical therapist on a regular basis, I still have to deal with the day to day issues.

In January 2021, I started having a problem with my left hip and groin. Walking up and down the half flight of stairs from my apartment to the main door of my building became painful. Many times, I would step first with my right foot then bring my left along. Lead with the right, follow with the left. Numerous visits to the therapists left everybody perplexed as to this on-going issue. Finally, the head therapist had a flash of insight, did some tests, then explained my sacroilliac joints were out of whack. He had me wear a Serola belt. Unlike a belt around the waist for lumbar support, this went around the hips to offer support for the sacroilliac joints. I wore it twenty-four hours a day and faithfully did a daily regime of isometric exercies designed to work the muscles around the joints. After some weeks, the half flight of stairs became pain-free. I started trying stair climbing, doing two, three, or four stories, then in increments of ten, slowly progressing to make sure my body could support the stress. Finally, after 2.5 months, I managed to stair climb one hundred stories. Obviously, the Serola belt did the trick.

In September 2016, I started having red marks appear on various parts of my body that were very, very itchy. I was convinced I had inadvertently brought some pest from the outside into my apartment. Bed bugs? Lice? Ticks? I had in numerous experts to spray but the results were negative. I finally visited a dermatologist and using skin samples, he tested for parasites. The results were negative. I've heard it said that our skin is the body's largest organ. Was I suffering from some sort of partial organ failure? For the past six years, I have tried every over the counter oinment and cream for itchiness with limited success. Three months ago, a new series of symptoms had my dermatologist diagnose me with folliculitis and started me on a daily regime of a oral antibiotic and an antibiotic cream. According to medical web sites like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic while this condition can clear up in weeks, for some persistent cases it can take months. I'm currently at day 60 and I'm not really seeing results. I keep waking up in the middle of the night in a tremendous fit of itchiness and must get up and slather on a topical analgesic gel to calm things down. My sleeping patterns are disrupted, and I'm exhausted. I did visit my family doctor out of desperation but he felt the best course of action was to continue with the prescribed treatment and discuss everything with the dermatologist in my follow-up visit at the four-month mark. I thank my lucky stars I found the topical analgesic gel or I'm sure I'd be going out of my mind.

My Point
Other than to bitch and moan? While I supposedly have a course of action, I must be patient and see it through to the end. And then, if necessary adjust that course of action in consultation with an expert. The problem, however, is how do I deal with anything on a day to day basis. What do I do when it's 3am, and I'm all by myself?

Several years ago, I went to the grocery store but before starting my rounds, I visited a small men's room. I opened the door and was immediately confronted with an obstacle. A man stood at a sink washing his hands. Stretching out behind him were two plastic tubes going to an oxygen tank sitting in a wheeled grocery cart parked against the opposite wall. I suppose I could have stooped down under the tubes but thought it best to wait to avoid catching them and causing a mishap and so reflected on the scene before me. This man was suffering from some respiratory ailment like emphysema but was still mobile and able to do his own grocery shopping. He had an health issue but was managing to retain a degree of freedom.

To be honest, I may be whining about my own circumstances but I like to think I can recognise that all of us have our own issues to deal with, and we may be dealing with said issues with varing degrees of success. We're doing our best with limited skills and sometimes with limited professional help. Yes, sometimes our issue is beyond the skills of the experts but we have to cope anyway.

We have to cope. I think that's the point of this rant. After all is said and done, after every consultation is complete, every test been carried out, and every remedial course of action implemented, all of us are sitting alone at 3am and have to cope. There's no other choice. There's no other option. We're on our own, and we have to figure it out ourselves. I'll be thinkin' o' ya at 3am when I'm up with an itchy attack, in the bathroom applying analgesic gel. Ha!


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Saturday 17 December 2022

What's my survival rate?

I have two acquaintances on social media, D and L. I say acquaintances for although we are technically friends as per how people are linked on social media, I've never met either one in real life and only know them through text messaging.

D is rarely on and I suppose we only exchange messages a few times per year. A month ago, out of the blue, she sends me a message while I'm offline, explaining she's been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, the doctors giving her six months to three years. I write back with my condolences but hear nothing. A few weeks later, I see her name online briefly. I write again but hear nothing. Considering I'm just an acquaintance she rarely talks to, I suppose I shouldn't expect a response. D has other things on her mind.

L and I have in the past had some lengthy conversations but in the past year or so have rarely been in touch. Two weeks ago, she contacts me while I'm online. She's been diagnosed with leukemia and is actually messaging from the hospital where she's undergoing chemo. We exchange texts about her type of leukemia and as I Google it, we discuss the five-year survival rate of 65%.

I've heard it said that the illness and/or death of somebody else makes us reassess our own lives. When is my time going to be up? I can't imagine what either one of these people are going through. I can only guess it must be surreal. You get the news you have a disease, and you're going to die. What do you do? How do you plan for that? Is there a plan? What exactly is death? What happens when I'm gone?

My Turn
I turned 70 this past October. My father died at 80. The average life expectancy of a male is around 82. Inevitably, I'm going to die. I just don't know when and I don't know how. When each of my parents died, I was the chosen member of the family to give the memorial speech. I can only describe the deaths as surreal. I always knew my parents wouldn't live forever and that someday, I was going to get the news. When I did finally get the news, I remember thinking that at last, the moment had arrived. I had thought about it, I had sort of planned it out in my head, and now, I had to do it. I kept having to remind myself that this was really happening. This wasn't a drill.

Someday, I'm going to get the news. My doctor is going to give me the results of some test and tell me I've only got so long to live and to arrange my affairs. I know it's going to happen and when it does, it's going to be a moment I'm going to have difficulty grasping. It's going to be surreal.

People disappear
In my social media, I go down my list of friends. Some I haven't chatted with in years. Where are they? Busy elsewhere? Have they dropped using such and such social media in favor of other activities in life? Or have they possibly died? I have no way of knowing. Periodically, a person's account goes silent and there's no indication of why. All we can do is conjecture.

Up to now, I've been talking about death. According to NamUS (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System)

Over 600,000 individuals go missing in the United States every year. Fortunately, many missing children and adults are quickly found, alive and well. However, tens of thousands of individuals remain missing for more than one year – what many agencies consider “cold cases”. It is estimated that 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year, with approximately 1,000 of those bodies remaining unidentified after one year.

This isn't something I normally think about but the above statistics tell me the world is full of mysteries. There's a lot going on we know nothing about. It's an odd comparison, but I remember watching some nature show following a herd of water buffalo. At one point, the herd is grazing on a savannah. Some lions in hiding rush forward and drag one of the buffalo off into the bush, and a few buffalo briefly look up then go back to grazing. At another point, an elderly, sick buffalo falls behind and is left by the herd. It eventually dies and the scavengers have at it.

Are humans like the herd? Except it's not lions per se, but disease, accidents, and God knows what else. But the rest of us, the rest of the herd, carry on. While I suppose that may seem heartless, what other choice do any of us really have other than carrying on? Humanity as a whole will live on while us as individuals disappear.

Social Media
Over the past few years, I've written about fellow bloggers suddenly leaving us.

my blog: Bobbie Morgan (1964-2015): A Good Woman's Dirty Mind - Nov 21/2015

my blog: Audrey van Petegem (1962-2020) - Oct 14/2020

I noted that family and friends supported their endeavors, keeping web sites up, and tending things like Facebook. I've realized I don't exactly have a contingency plan, and if I keeled over tomorrow, nobody knows my password to Facebook.

The world currently has a population of 8 billion. There are approximately 140 million births and 70 million deaths each year. 70 million is almost 0.9% of 8 billion. Facebook has 2.9 million users. It would stand to reason that 0.9% of Facebook dies each year which equals 25 million users. There would be variations by age group, etc. but the same logic could be applied to any social media platform.

Final Word
D and L seem like nice people. I've always had good interactions with them and think of them fondly. I'm sorry for this personal turn of events, and as I said, I can't imagine what they're going through.

Life is finite. The ride doesn't go on forever. Inevitably, we are all going to shuffle off this mortal coil. A silent account could mean any one of a number of things as it's an inescapable fact of life. And someday, my account is going to go silent.

Postscript: 2022-12-18
This random tweet popped up in my feed. I was stunned.

Twitter: Mark Stokes @StokesNeuro, 2022-12-18

I read through the comments. It was heartrending. There was an outpouring of emotion, surprise, grief, and best wishes for the next part of his journey.

I followed up. Mr. Stokes died the next day.

Mark Stokes Death – University of Oxford Cognitive Neuroscience Professor Mark Stokes has sadly passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. He died leaving behind his family and loved ones in shock. He was announced dead on Sunday 18th December 2022 on Facebook by Gregory Hilton in a publication that reads “A heartfelt goodbye to Dr. Mark Stokes This is not political and in a brief time Professor Stokes made the world a better place”.

Update: 2023-11-18
I didn't think to look before but it finally dawned on me to check D's partner. In his profile, he says that D died in February 2023.

I chat with L from time to time. She's getting treatment and doing well. I don't think she can say she's completely in the clear but things at the moment look promising.

I recently spoke with J, a colleague from my previous job. In the spring of 2023, he was having difficulty walking and thought he had a back problem. After several consultations and tests, he was diagnosed with ALS. The mean survival rate is two to five years, and it's been six months since his first symptom. He now has to use a wheelchair, having a ramp installed at his house. He's given up driving as he is no longer able to operate the brake pedal and the accelerator with his feet. At night, he uses a machine to help with his breathing. J's a nice guy. He doesn't deserve this but such is the randomness of fate.


Wikipedia: Five-year survival rate
The five-year survival rate is a type of survival rate for estimating the prognosis of a particular disease, normally calculated from the point of diagnosis. Lead time bias from earlier diagnosis can affect interpretation of the five-year survival rate.

Wikipedia: Death and the Internet
A recent extension to the cultural relationship with death is the increasing number of people who die having created a large amount of digital content, such as social media profiles, that will remain after death. This may result in concern and confusion, because of automated features of dormant accounts (e.g. birthday reminders), uncertainty of the deceased's preferences that profiles be deleted or left as a memorial, and whether information that may violate the deceased's privacy (such as email or browser history) should be made accessible to family.

The Guardian: Who will deal with your online presence when you die? How to create a ‘digital will’, 2021-04-10
Making a plan now can prevent identity theft, save records and stop friends getting painful pop-up reminders when you’re gone


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Thursday 15 December 2022

What's wrong with politics: Me!

It's my fault. I realize this is an odd thing to say, but I've come to the conclusion I'm what's wrong with politics.

Let me explain. I'm Canadian but what I'm saying is applicable to American politics or any politics anywhere.

In Toronto, my hometown, we recently had an election, and I had to cast three votes, for mayor of the city, and in my ward Willowdale, for city councilor and school trustee.

For mayor, I voted for the incumbent John Tory. He seems to have been doing a good job, so why not? But I'm not being honest with myself. I had no idea what the issues were. I had no idea about the other candidates, their platforms, and what promises they may have made during the campaign. John Tory's record was completely unknown to me so I had no right to say he's been doing a good job or a bad job. I've been living my life and paying absolutely no attention to the state of affairs of the city. If we were in the dumpster, I was unaware of it. I have to be truthful and say I haven't been paying attention and anything I've heard about what's going on has been very isolated, merely what may have percolated up to the top in a random headline in my social media feed. John Tory won.

A week before the election, for some inexplicable reason, I had a flash of conscious and spent some all too brief of time researching the candidates for city councilor. The incumbent, John Filion, decided to retire so the field was wide open. I went to the polling station with the intention of voting for Markus Fehr because of his 10 years of experience as the chief of staff for John Filion. However, over the week, I had seen a number of advertisements for Lily Cheung. As I stood in the privacy booth, looking at the ballot, I paused for a moment, then leaned over and checked the box not for Markus Fehr but for Lily Cheung. I don't have a legitimate reason for doing so. It was very much a spur of the moment whim. In the back of my mind, I somehow thought giving a newcomer a chance may lead to fresh results. Lily Cheung won.

I knew nothing about the school trustee. I used my phone to look up the incumbent, Alexander Brown, and voted for him. As of this writing, I see he didn't win.

In looking at the above and in being honest in analyzing what I did, I can't say this is a good example of democracy. As a voter, I should be informed. I should know about the issues and the candidates. I was not. Yes, I voted, but I voted in a capricious manner, something akin to throwing a dart against the wall.

If I take my example and apply it to society in large, what results am I going to see?

Over the past ten plus years with this blog, I have wrote numerous articles about various issues, especially politics. My conclusion is that the average citizen knows very little about the world, and I'm including myself in that assessment. When those citizens step into a voting booth, there is a very good chance their votes, like my votes above, are carried out on a whim as opposed to an informed, deliberate objective. It's amused me to think about the number of people who voted for t**** in 2016 just to screw the system. They didn't do it because they thought he was the best candidate; they did it just to stir up some sh*t.

Chaos Theory
The branch of mathematics that deals with complex systems whose behavior is highly sensitive to slight changes in conditions, so that small alterations can give rise to strikingly great consequences.

I don't know what the f*ck I'm talking about
The Dunning-Kruger Effect basically says that those with less knowledge about something seemed to be more convinced they know the right answer. No need to further investigate anything; they know what's going on!

Over the years, I've come to realize that I am like Socrates: I know nothing. In other words, the more I know the less I know. As John Cleese amusingly summed up when talking about Dunning-Kruger, one has to have a certain degree of intelligence to understand one's limitations. Truly dumb people have no idea they're dumb.

Over and over and over again during this tumultuous period in American politics marked by the great Drumpf, I have seen the vast rise of the uninformed electorate. I am absolutely flabbergasted by the misinformation being passed around as the truth. Alternative facts? Pure, unmitigated bovine defecation! Nobody takes any time to verify anything and as a consequence, they accept anything said by anyone and repeat it ad infinitum. Or is it ad nauseam? As I like to say:

Never have so many knowing so little said so much.

Example: Brittney Griner
A MAGA supporter I know, tweeted the other day that Brittney Griner is a drug addict. At the same time, I found out Griner had been condemned to nine years in prison for smuggling and possession charges over 0.7 grams of cannabis oil, medicinal marijuana prescribed to her in her home state of Arizona.

0.7 grams? This doesn't add up. The story or the interpretation of the story is inconsistent. What's going on?

First off, I have a cousin dealing with a tremendous amount of chronic pain due to nerve damage. He has more experience than anybody I know with various pain treatments, and has spoke to me about using cannabis oil, CBD, etc. He's not a drug addict; he's a man in pain.

With a minimal of searching, I turn up this article from UC San Diego Health, a legitimate, respectable health service provider.

Increasingly, professional athletes in sports ranging from football to bicycling to long-distance running have turned to using cannabis to reduce pain from post-game injuries and to help speed recovery.

I am also aware of cannabis being used to treat pain in cancer patients. In other words, labeling these people drug addicts displays a complete lack of understanding about pain management.

In searching for "Brittney Griner is a drug addict", I ran across far-right journalist Benny Johnson of Newsmax as reported by mediamatters, ranting against the Biden administration:

“They wouldn't allow a Black woman, lesbian woman, drug addict, America-hating – woke, to be kept in prison in Russia”.

I have doubts this reporting is going to be in any way objective. Johnson continues:

So Biden is sitting there bragging about the worst US foreign policy decision in my lifetime. This is on par, in my lifetime, with abandoning our soldiers in Benghazi to die at the hands of terrorists.

Hillary Clinton has been demonized over and over again about Benghazi but here's the point that Johnson, conservatives, and the Right miss out of this story. Republicans along with others voted for defunding security in Benghazi. Yes, you heard me. The people bitching about Hillary are in part responsible for this tragedy. They somehow have conveniently forgotten their part in these deaths.

Final Word
People open their mouths and say stuff with no idea they don't know what they're talking about. People are voting but have no idea of what the issues are or the candidates they're voting for. Many or us or all of us have limited knowledge of how the world works. A democracy means the people vote but people should vote intelligently, being informed about what's going on.

While anybody can be adamant about their views, it strikes me that the Right is angry. I mean like off the dial angry. They are so angry they are blinded to anything but their anger. They are so entrenched in their ideology, they can't see anything else. They are incapable to tackling any subject in a calm, logical, well-researched manner. My way or the highway. Over and over again, I ask a conservative to prove their point to me and I will gladly vote with them but they fail to do so. Their anger has made them irrational.

I'm tired. Politics has always been about bullsh*t but I think this has been taken to a whole new level in the era of t****. It's no longer about "the truth" or making the world a better place, it's about getting and maintaining power at all cost. Lie, cheat, steal, do anything and everything about power. Nothing else seems to matter. The people who are screaming at me that I'm a sheeple because I'm a progressive liberal are incapable of looking at themselves in the mirror. They don't care about being right; they only care about winning the argument. Repeat it often enough and two plus two equals five. However, sooner or later, there will be a reckoning.

The truth doesn't give a f*ck about your opinion.


Wikipedia: Brittney Griner: Arrest in Russia
On February 17, 2022, Griner was arrested on smuggling charges in Russia. She was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport after the Federal Customs Service found she was carrying vaporizer cartridges containing less than a gram of hash oil. In Arizona, she had been prescribed medicinal cannabis, which is illegal in Russia.

Published Apr 11/2014 by Robert Grimsby
YouTube: John Cleese on Stupidity (0:58)
Cleese explains why extremely stupid people do not have the capability to realize how stupid they are.


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Saturday 10 December 2022

Shawn Desman: Maniac

Published Dec 7/2022 by ShawnDesmanVEVO
YouTube: Shawn Desman - Maniac (2:50)

(She's a maniac
But you love it just like that
Yeah, you love it just like that)

She's so dangerous
If looks could kill she'd bring you to your knees
She's so venomous
Wraps around you takes just what she needs
And then she leaves

The way she moves it's like the ocean
So smooth, she got you hoping
She'd open up and swallow you whole

She's a maniac
But you always come right back
And when she looks like that
You can't forget it
She's a maniac
But you love it just like that
Yeah, you love it just like that

It's so obvious
The way she got you begging on the floor
That you want more
Yeah, it's obvious
You've never met a girl like her before
And you want more

The way she moves it's like the ocean
So smooth, she got you hoping
She'd open up and swallow you whole

She's a maniac
But you always come right back
And when she looks like that
You can't forget it
She's a maniac
But you love it just like that
Yeah, you love it just like that
Cuz she's a maniac

You just can't resist
You're so into it
You think that it's love
But she's a maniac


Wikipedia: Shawn Desman
Shawn Bosco Fernandes (born January 12, 1982), better known by his stage name Shawn Desman, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, dancer, and television personality. He was signed to Universal Music Canada.


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Thursday 1 December 2022

I've turned 70

70 years. My goodness, do people really live that long? I grew up with some sort of idea that old people were, well, old. Canes, walkers, rocking chairs, slow to move, slow to respond. I know somebody’s going to come out with some quip like, “You’re as old as you feel.” At sixty you can fake it, but I think at seventy, you have crossed the line: you are officially old.

70 years. 852 months. 25,567 days. At this point, does everyone ask themselves, “Where did the time go?” Do people in general also question what they’ve done, what they’ve accomplished, and what mistakes they’ve made? “If I could be twenty again but knowing what I know now.”

My father died two days shy of his 80th birthday. How much time do I have left? This ride isn’t going to last forever, and like it or not, my stay is limited. I just don’t know when it’s going to be over.

So, just what have I accomplished? What do I have to show for anything I’ve done throughout the years? Can I point to something and say, “I did that”?

When I was a kid, I seemed to have shown promise. That promise never materialised. Much to my chagrin, I’ve turned out to be at best average, probably more mundane, even mediocre. If I am where I am, I see it more as a question of luck rather than of a carefully executed life plan of goal fulfillment. I know somebody reading this may think I’m demonstrating humility or self-deprecation but I’d say it’s more about the curse of being smart enough to realise I’m not really smart. Clever in some ways, but nothing like that promise of me as a child.

I think about my mistakes. Sometimes, I wince. Yes, I think about my mistakes, and I literally wince. I can’t take it back. I can’t undo it. I can only live with it. And it doesn’t matter if there is some sort of explanation, a rationalisation, or a legitimate excuse for what happened; it was a mistake that I committed. I’ve had moments when I’ve been working at my desk, and I flashed on something and gotten up to pace while wringing my hands. “How could I have been so stupid? How could I have done such a thing?” Some things will haunt me for the rest of my life. I can’t rectify them; I can only try to live with them. I said try. I guess I’m managing but I still have my moments.

Health is everything. It’s a seemingly trite statement everybody’s heard and doesn’t think much of. That is, until health becomes an issue.

I hit sixty and started having problems. I realise now that God had granted me sixty years of virtually no health issues at all, and I should be grateful. Now, the wheels are starting to fall off the wagon, so to speak. I’m managing; I’m getting by; but I’ve come to realise how my main focus of the day is health related. Before, it was get up, get dressed, get out the door. Now, it’s get up, do this health-related thing, do that thing, do a series of isometric exercises, stretching, and go to the gym regularly. I can’t stop moving. If I do, I stiffen up; I begin to ache; then I have to work to get loosened back up and get rid of the aches. While before it seemed as if I could go all day without stopping, now I take breaks throughout the day to get up, move around, stretch, etc. I’ve read health experts say that sitting too long is bad for us so is this related to my age or just something we all need to pay attention to?

Is this what it’s like at seventy, how bad is it going to be at eighty? I’m scaring myself.

Don’t get the impression I think about this every day, but I do from time to time wonder how the end will come. Recently, a cousin had a stroke which left him numb down the right side of his body with a speech impediment. Supposedly he can recover with therapy, but this has been a life-altering event. His quality of life has dropped considerably. Another had been doing twenty-five dumbbell raises with both arms. One day, feeling good or feeling cocky, he did fifty reps. He pulled a muscle in his shoulder, had a great deal of pain, and ended up off work for two weeks. I explained my own experience over the past decade, having done such a thing more than once, letting my enthusiasm get in the way of good judgment. Instead of going from twenty-five to fifty reps, he should had gone to thirty reps and stayed with that for three, four, or five sessions before trying thirty-five. But not twenty-five to fifty in one go!

I’ve noted over these past years, I don’t seem to feel any pain while I’m doing something. It’s not until the next day or the day after that the ache or the pain shows up as a sign I’ve hurt myself. I don’t know if endorphins mask pain during a routine, but I try to be hyper-aware of the slightest discomfort or even an odd feeling as my signal to stop doing what I’m doing out of fear of hurting myself. When I was thirty, if I hurt myself, I could recover relatively quickly. Today, it takes longer, sometimes a lot longer so hurting myself can be a disappointing setback.

As you can see by the above writing, health has become my number one preoccupation in life. Some may say that I’m self-disciplined but it ‘s more about being scared. As I’ve written here, back in 2012, I had a sports accident and traumatised the upper left quadrant of my body. I was in pain twenty-hours a day for almost six months. I could barely move. Every waking moment was about pain management: when do I take a pain pill; how long do I have to wait for the next one; and what can I do in the meantime to minimise any pain I may feel. It was a nightmare; I was trapped in my own body; and it was Hell on Earth. I will do anything to avoid going through that again, so I’ve been frightened into being disciplined.

I've become my father
At family gatherings, I'm now the senior member. I'm the old man. Although, I see myself as my father in other ways.

My mother died when my father was 72. He spent the last eight years of his life, living in the family home all by himself. I'm retired and live by myself. How did my father manage compared to how I manage? How did my father occupy his time compared to how I occupy mine? The rest of the world moves on with their own day-to-day issues, and the affairs of one old man are of little or no consequence. That is, except to him.

My father fiddled with his own interests, his own projects, for himself. He didn't do it necessarily for others; he did it because it brought him some measure of satisfaction, maybe even accomplishment. I now see myself the same way. What I do isn't that meaningful in the grand scheme of things. There are now eight billion people on the planet, and most of them have no idea I exist. Certainly, anything I do has a negligible impact on the world. So why do I do it? For myself. At the end of the day, all of us do whatever we do for ourselves, not with the intention of setting the world on fire.

Final Word
So, here I am. 70. I made it. Several years ago, a friend told me she had read that if we make it to 70, statistically, there's a good chance we'll make it to 80. I guess we'll see. I was chatting with somebody about my health issues, and they chuckled and said, "What did you expect? You're 70!" I replied, "I've never been 70 before. I had no idea of what to expect!"

I've heard it said that we are generally living longer and while decades ago, 70 may have been considered as old, nowadays, 70 can still be considered as an active, "non-old" per se age. "You're as old as you feel." Well, I don't feel old. Heck, I don't know exactly what old feels like. I am aware of certain physical limitations but I do seem to be still moving. Once in a while, I run across somebody younger than me with huge problems to deal with. There but for the grace of God... Should I complain? It reminds me that I'm lucky. Things may not be perfect but they could be worse.

Back in July, I wrote to a friend who was turning 70, congratulating him and giving him my best wishes, ending with, “See you at 80.”


I wrote this on 2022-10-20 and only just now, 2022-12-01, got around to clicking on Publish. I'm slow. What did you expect? I'm 70! Ha, ha!

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